The Current

Meet some of the people living along the Kinder Morgan pipeline route

The Current heads on a road trip along the route of Kinder Morgan's newly-approved pipeline expansion to gauge support for it in communities along the way.
Yellow signs like this one mark the path of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast. (Erin Collins/CBC)

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Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline has been around for 63 years and a recent approval by the federal cabinet to expand the line has sparked both elation and outrage.

If completed — the expansion will triple the amount of crude oil the line carries from Alberta's oilsands to the B.C. coast. It's a big "if" because in order to break ground, Kinder Morgan must first meet 157 conditions and have 120 First Nations on board. 

The CBC's Erin Collins travelled through the communities along the pipeline route, where he talked to people to gauge their opinion of the expansion.

Brett Cieslikowski runs the curling club in Hinton Alberta where the oil and gas sector plays a big role in supporting the club and the town. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Meet Brett Cieslikowski

About 300 kilometres west of Edmonton, the Kinder Morgan pipeline passes through Hinton, Alta. The town of around 9,000 people relies on natural resources — not just oil and gas, but coal and timber, too.

Brett Cieslikowski owns the local curling rink in Hinton and says the energy industry is very important to his business.

"They're huge sponsors of our club. We may not be able to survive without their sponsorships," he tells Collins. Half of the men's league works in oil and gas that Cieslikowski helps with the sponsorship.

Cieslikowski is a pro-oil and gas guy and says most people in the town are too.

I mean it supports a lot of people's lives. That's how a lot of people in these rural communities make a living.- Brett Cieslikowski, resident of Hinton, Alberta
Kasey Quinn was born and raised in Blue River with the Trans Mountain pipeline running through her yard and behind her school. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Meet Kasey Quinn

Kasey Quinn was born and raised in Blue River, B.C. and recently returned home to raise her family. She says the town has changed a lot since she was young.

"When I grew up … there was about 75 kids in the school. Now there's eight," Quinn tells Collins.

"We don't have anybody left in Blue River."

Quinn supports the pipeline because she says the town can't grow without work for people to live in Blue River.

I'm all for the pipeline. I really feel when it comes to Blue River, it'll bring a lot more people in, a lot more jobs available.- Kasey Quinn, resident of Blue River, B.C.

She says the pipeline is hidden underneath the beautiful landscape so it means Blue River can still be enjoyed as "one of the most beautiful places in the world and you would never know that that's what's underneath us."

Robert Oakman's family has been running this store in Blue River BC for more than 40 years, these days it is the only shop in town. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Meet Robert Oakman

Robert Oakman's family has been running the Blue River Market for more than 40 years, and he hopes that it won't just be jobs that return to Blue River if the Trans Mountain pipeline is expanded.

"Might bring more people into town to live in Blue River, and at the same time, maybe more homes will be built in Blue River," he says.

Dogwalker Robin Dykes doesn't trust oil companies but says she isn't entirely opposed to new pipelines either. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Meet Robin Dykes

From Blue River, the Trans Mountain line winds south through the mountains, eventually making its way to the city of Kamloops, where the yellow signs that mark the path of the line run through an arid gorge and past one of the city's off-leash dog parks.

Robin Dykes walks her dogs here nearly every day.

I am not against pipelines. I just want them to assure and somehow give us a safety net so that we can have more faith in them.- Robin Dykes, resident of Kamloops, B.C.

Dykes would like to see a fund set up by Kinder Morgan that would pay for any cleanups that need to happen along the line in the future.

Art Hilstad has lived next to the Trans Mountain pipeline for more than fifty years but isn't in favour of plans to expand it. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Meet Art Hilstad

Art Hilstad has lived on a quiet suburban street in Burnaby for more than 50 years. From his back deck, the 86-year old can see right into the Burrard Inlet, and he worries about all those tankers moving past his backyard,

If the line is expanded, tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet will jump from about five per month to more than 30, a big worry for people like Hilstad and his neighbours.

They said, 'Oh no, nothing to worry about.' The spills, well, the spills happen on a pretty regular basis.- Art Hilstad, resident of Burnaby, B.C. 

Listen at the top of this post to meet the people Erin Collins spoke to.

This segment was produced by Calgary network producer Michael O'Halloran.